After reading the initial reports concerning the 2011 suspensions of five Ohio State football players, including quarterback Terrell Pryor, I can think of FIVE immediate questions that can be asked, all of which beg answers:
First, why aren’t these particular players suspended from the Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl? Holding Pryor and the others from playing Akron or Toledo is actually meaningless. Only ONE Big Ten game will be sacrificed – (against Michigan State) and only one road game (at Miami of Florida). For the other seven conference games, Pryor gets to suit up including the season-ender Nov. 26 at Michigan.
Ironically, Pryor is accused of selling the vaunted “Gold Pants” he received for beating U-M in 2008..
If this quintet isn’t eligible to start the 2011 season in uniform, what makes the Sugar Bowl so damn different? As a Michigan fan, I’d sure like to have that question answered.
Second, Did the Ohio State administration know something before sanctions were announced Wednesday? Did it know back in November 2009, when according to AD Gene Smith, “We were not as explicit with our student-athlete education as we should have been in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years regarding the sale of apparel, awards and gifts issued by the athletics department. We began to significantly improve our education in November of 2009 to address these issues. After going through this experience, we will further enhance our education for all our student-athletes as we move forward.”
If those people played Sgt. Schultz (“I see nut-ting!”), why was there a “significant” improvement of student-athlete education in this area? And why did it take a full year for this to be revealed? You think Wisconsin and Michigan State supporters aren’t steaming mad at this point?
Third, shouldn’t these students have known better? Each NCAA scholarship-tendered is given a copy of NCAA rules, during recruitment and during school attendance. The best advice ever given to ANY athlete came, of course, from Bo Schembechler, who said constantly, “If you have any doubt about whether you might break a rule, just don’t do it; you probably are the way NCAA rules exist.”
Before those archaic rules change, the violating athlete will suffer. The question then becomes, “Is it worth it?”
And what does Ohio State do with its compliance director when the top players don’t quite fully understand the word, “compliance?”
Fourth, why is the Ohio State athletic administration fighting this punishment? Isn’t this a bit worse than violating practice limitations???
Some might say these players got off scot-free, especially since someone sat on this information for a year’s time. Although, the Rich Rodriguez era in Ann Arbor has not been Windex clean, when the penalties were announced, U-M decided to take its medicine and move along; Columbus is whining.
Finally, anyone really buying the “explanation” of youthful indiscretions and “kids being kids?” They are juniors and have been in the major spotlight for three years … and, in particular, Pryor.
He tweeted that he used the money for tattoos and his high school coach said the money was to help his family. Uh … why does THIS man know the “what for” about an improper transaction?
Of course, I heard one radio talk show host suggested these players should have ALL said, “my father sold it” … a reference to the Cam Newton situation (which was adjudicated FAR faster than this).
For those who don’t see the problem with what these players did, I’ll answer that. While a championship ring was sold for $1,000, what would have prevented a major Buckeye booster from offering … $100,000, or more? Could that transaction be the difference in keeping Pryor from turning pro in January or returning for a fourth year on a possible national championship squad? How much is THAT scenario worth?
The prices for the items are too similar and it sure appears the players were in collaboration with one another. It reeks of a deeper problem, namely WHO purchased these things for that kind of money? It has the familiar ring of booster payments and those of us in Texas know what THAT is all about (especially in Dallas where the former governor was the lead booster doing the payoffs for SMU).
Something smells in Columbus; and someone needs to dig a whole lot deeper into what happened and why.
I’m talking Chilean coal mine deep!